* Protect Our Families From Toxic Chemicals!

public alert picture

Early puberty, childhood cancer, infertility, learning and developmental disabilities are rising at alarming rates. Studies1 have even shown there are links between the toxic chemicals we’re exposed to every day and many of these negative health trends. There is some good news though. The Safe Chemicals Act, a bill in Congress, would require that chemical manufacturers prove that chemicals are safe before they go on the market.

We need your help to urge Senator Burr and Senator Hagan to pass this important bill. Please take one minute to sign our petition asking them to protect our families from toxic chemicals: http://action.ncconservationnetwork.org/SafeChemicalsAct

We know that the chemical industry is working overtime and is spending millions of dollars lobbying Congress to block meaningful progress in Washington. In fact, last year they spent $52 million dollars lobbying Congress to block protections for our families. This is why we’re working together with a coalition of groups across the country to show our U.S. Senators that North Carolinian’s want reasonable protections from toxic chemicals.

It’s unacceptable that this common sense bill has not yet passed Congress. Join us to urge Senator Burr and Senator Hagan to stand up and protect North Carolina’s families from exposure to toxic chemicals.

Please take one minute to add your name to the growing list of North Carolinian’s who support a law that will protect our families from harmful chemicals.

Thanks,

Brittany Iery
NC Conservation Network 

 

For more information:
1. The Collaborative on Health and the Environment: About the Toxicant and Disease Database
2. Senate Bill 847: Safe Chemicals Act


19 East Martin St., Suite 300, Raleigh, NC 27601 / 919.857.4699 / info[at]ncconservationnetwork.org
www.ncconservationnetwork.org

* Come to the Sanford shale gas hearing!

Come to the Sanford shale gas hearing! 
6:30-9:30PM for hearing, come at 5:30 to sign up
Groups and Local Elected Officials to Hold Press Conference
“CONCLUSIONS” OF DENR REPORT DON’T FIT THE FACTS”
Tuesday March 20, 5:50 PM
Dennis Wicker Center Lecture Hall (details), 1801 Nash St. Sanford, NC (map)
After reviewing the over 400 page report issued by DENR last Friday the conclusion that hydraulic fracturing “can be done safely provided the right protections are in place,” eight grassroots groups say this conclusion is not supported by the report itself.  Speakers at the press conference will cover many shortcomings of the report, information in the report that contradicts the conclusion given, the extreme complexity of the issues raised by this method of gas extraction, and the severe lack of readiness of state officials and agencies to manage it.
The full study is over 30 MB, so be patient in downloading!  Talking points are available here.

DRAFT Executive Summary (201k)
DRAFT Recommendations and Limitations (470k)

Findings from this draft report will be presented first in a public meeting to be held at the Wicker Center in Sanford on March 20, 2012, from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. The meeting  will also be streamed live online at https://its.ncgovconnect.com/denr_shale_gas/.

Written comments on the draft report will be accepted through April 1, in addition to any feedback received at the two public meetings. Written comments can be sent via email to  Shale_gas_comments@ncdenr.gov; or through the mail to NCDENR, attn: Trina Ozer, 1601 MSC, Raleigh, NC 27699.”

Copyright © 2012 Clean Water for North Carolina, All rights reserved.
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Our mailing address is:

Clean Water for North Carolina

29 1/2 Page Ave.

Asheville, NC 28801

* Environmental Groups Continue Fight against LNG Fracking

Sierra Club Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sierra Club

Contact: Jason Pitt, 202.675.6272

Environmental Groups Continue Fight against LNG Fracking

Asks Federal Environmental Agencies to Protest Export Facilities

Washington, D.C.— Today multiple environmental organizations called on the President’s chief environmental advisor asking for a full environmental analysis of plans to export liquefied natural gas (LNG). The letter to the Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency sounds the alarm that the agencies considering these export plans are not analyzing or disclosing the environmental impacts of the increased hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ that would be necessary to support major LNG exports.

“Exporting liquefied natural gas means more dangerous fracking, a secretive and toxic part of the production process that the Sierra Club has no confidence in,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “With the health of our communities and our environment at stake, it’s up to our leaders at EPA and other agencies to keep their commitment to protecting Americans from the toxic threats to our air and water that come with liquefied natural gas.”

“LNG facilities like the one proposed for Cove Point are intended to ship natural gas extracted in this country off to foreign lands, said Michael Helfrich of Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper. “The result is that gas drillers can ship American gas overseas in order to make more money, but this increases the price of natural gas for us, and our communities and environment get ravaged by the shale gas “gold rush”, including thousands of miles of new pipelines and new compressor stations through the Susquehanna Watershed. It may be a win for the gas drillers but it throws the idea of American energy independence out the window.”

“Gas drilling is devastating the communities where it is happening; the claim of environmentally friendly fracking and shale gas drilling is just another expensive messaging campaign” says Maya van Rossum of the Delaware Riverkeeper. “People are losing their drinking water, their clean air, their health, and the beautiful landscapes they call home. The assertion of cheap gas and energy independence is just another marketing campaign – drillers are investing heavily in building and expanding LNG facilities in order to ship American extracted gas overseas. Americans are suffering all of the pollution and harm from gas drilling while foreign countries get to use the gas and drillers get to reap the profits. It’s a lose lose for Americans.”

On February 7th, 2012, The Sierra Club filed the first formal objection with the Department of Energy against the export of domestic gas produced from fracking. This objection called the export proposal an unwise plan which would make a dirty fuel even more dangerous and would cost families money by raising gas and electricity prices. The Sierra Club also intervened in proposals for LNG export facility permits in Sabine Pass, LA and Coos Bay, OR.

The letter is signed by the Sierra Club, the Columbia Riverkeeper, the Delaware Riverkeeper, Earthjustice, Friends of Living Oregon Waters (FLOW), Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper and the Rogue Riverkeeper. Full text of the letter as submitted is available upon request.

# # #

* Keystone XL – It’s not over yet!

Sierra Club Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

February 27, 2012

Contact:  Eddie Scher, 415-977-5758
Maggie Kao, 202-675-2384

TransCanada Announces Plan to Circumvent Environmental Review to Build Rejected Tar Sands Pipeline in US

WASHINGTON, DC – TransCanada, the company behind the rejected Keystone XL tar sands pipeline today sent a letter to the US State Department announcing its intention to circumvent US environmental review and build the southern portion of the proposed crude oil pipeline from Cushing, OK, to Port Arthur, TX. In the month since President Obama denied the permit the company has undertaken an unprecedented lobbying and public relations effort to gain approval for the pipeline.

In response, Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director, issued the following statement:

“TransCanada is hell bent on bringing tar sands, the world’s dirtiest oil, through America to reach foreign markets. They can’t wait for a fair, scientific environmental review they know their pipeline would fail. So we see dirty political tricks, dirty PR tricks, and, now, this dirty trick to build the pipeline piecemeal.

“With TransCanada it’s ‘safety last.’ The first US Keystone pipeline averaged a leak a month. But the company can’t wait to divert tar sands crude oil from the Midwest to the Gulf, raising American oil prices and, likely, also gasoline prices. This Oklahoma to Texas segment of the Keystone XL pipeline will mean more tar sands converted to diesel and available for export overseas.

“With this announcement TransCanada is telling the Americans that it is above the law. The company did not expect public scrutiny on this project, but the American people are watching and we are unwilling to sacrifice American farmers and ranchers, and the drinking water for millions of Americans whose water supplies lie below or downstream of this dangerous pipeline.”

###

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* FrackUpdate 2/22 – NY Ordinance, Leaks, Pipeline

FrackUpdates Feb.16-22
No Votes Taken in Special Session 
Thanks to all of you who contacted your Representatives to ask them to vote against a resolution to override the veto of Senate Bill 709! (The Senate has already voted to override last year, but it takes BOTH chambers overriding with 60% vote in order to make the bill law). If you haven’t already heard, the special House session last Thurs did not NOT take any votes on legislation or veto overrides—thanks to our legislative allies for showing up from across the state!COMING UP- PUBLIC HEARINGS ON SHALE GAS STUDY! 
Tues., March 20th 6:30-9:30 PM – Sanford, Dennis A. Wicker Center, 1801 Nash Street
Tues., March 27th 6:30-9:30 PM – Chapel Hill, East Chapel Hill High School Auditorium, 1709 High School Rd. 
RECENT ARTICLES
New York Town’s Ban on Gas Fracking Upheld by Judge
“A central New York town can block natural-gas drilling after a state judge, in the first test of local laws, upheld the Town of Dryden’s ban on hydraulic fracturing.
State Supreme Court Judge Phillip Rumsey in a ruling released yesterday said the town’s zoning amendment on gas drilling wasn’t pre-empted by state law.” Feb.22, Bloomberg Debate Surround Race to Export America’s Natural Gas
“Multinational energy firms and some economists say exporting natural gas is a no-brainer: the cost of producing natural gas in the United States has plummeted with the explosion in shale gas production, while prices remain high elsewhere in the world.” Feb. 21, Inside Climate NewsFalling natural gas prices may slow fracking issue in NY
“It all raises the question: Has New York missed the gas-drilling boom? Most experts say no, but several said low natural-gas prices could have an effect on the pace drillers set in New York should the state allow high-volume hydrofracking.” Feb. 21, the Poughkeepsie Journal (NY)
  
Gas Drilling May Be Leaking Twice as Much Gas as Thought
“(Research) performed by scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, focused on Weld County, Colo., home to more than 20,000 gas wells. After years of monitoring and study, the researchers estimated that about 4 percent of the methane produced by these wells is lost to the atmosphere.” Feb. 9, Inside Climate News
 
Davidson College protest plans for gas pipeline
“Davidson College says a pipeline Piedmont Natural Gas plans to build across its campus would damage the college’s 200-acre nature preserve, the site of years of research.” Feb. 21, Charlotte Observer
 
Fracking Rules to Disclose Fracking Chemical Exceptions
“Last week several media outlets obtained the federal Bureau of Land Management’s draft of proposed rules requiring fracking companies to disclose the chemicals they pump into the ground.” Feb. 16, ProPublica
 
Study: Fracturing no threat to groundwater 

“Hydraulic fracturing in shale formations “has no direct connection” to groundwater contamination, a study released Thursday concluded.” Feb. 16, the Houston Chronicle

Copyright © 2012 Clean Water for North Carolina, All rights reserved.
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Our mailing address is:

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Asheville, NC 28801

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* Senator seeking extension of federal wind energy production tax credit (PCT)

The AWEA (American Wind Energy Association) Blog: Into the Wind

Moran visits Siemens factory, pushes PTC extension

Posted: 2012-02-22 Tom Gray

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) visited a Siemens wind turbine manufacturing plant in Hutchinson, Kans., Monday and expressed his intention to seek an extension of the federal wind energy production tax credit (PTC) by amending a transportation funding bill that is currently being considered in the Senate (see Bennet, Moran continue bipartisan push to extend PTC, Feb. 16).

According to the Hutchinson News, Moran said he and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) are also gathering signatures of other Senators on a bipartisan letter in support of a longer extension of the credit. Such an extension could come through a stand-alone “tax extender bill,” though the timing for such a bill is uncertain.  Added Moran, “We’re trying to get out front on this, to do it early because of uncertainty in the industry.”

The Hutchinson plant now employs 350 workers and has brought new manufacturing jobs to a city and state that urgently need them (see video, Siemens nacelle factory comes to life, Hutchinson, KS), but those jobs could disappear if the PTC is not extended soon–turbines and other components require lead time for manufacturing, and with the credit scheduled to expire at the end of this year, the optimum time for an extension is as soon as possible.

Moran commented, “Our goal is to extend it [the PTC] long enough that there is certainty in the industry so it can develop on its own and we can gradually phase it out … There’s no doubt in my mind if we extend it that this is a job creator. More people will be working and paying taxes and helping get our financial house in order … There are members of Congress who feel we ought not to pick winners and losers, to let the markets decide. I believe it’s better to get this industry up and running, then let the country decide … rather than pull the rug out overnight.”

* North Carolina Chapter – Footnotes Newsletter

 :North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

You’ve heard Sierrans talking about offshore wind for over a year now.  Well, the Governor’s office just heard about it from her own Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy.

That’s right; the report released by the panel found that North Carolina has the best offshore wind resources on the East coast. Further, it concluded that we should do more to bring this industry to our state.

Whether pushing for offshore wind or pushing back against hastily fracking in the state, Sierrans are stepping up this year.  If you want to step up, too, this month’s issue of Footnotes offers some good ideas of places to start.

A pleasure, as always,
Your staff at the NC Sierra Club

 
Wind Forum - convio.jpg

Offshore Wind: The People Are Ready

When will wind win?  It’s a question that Sierrans have been asking for a while.  And the public is ready!

When the Offshore Wind team hosted a forum in Morehead City, more than 200 people showed up.  The picture on the right doesn’t do the event justice.

And when the Governor’s Scientific Advisory Panel released its findings, Sierrans were ready to respond.

If you want to join the offshore wind team, contact Carina at carina.barnett-loro@sierraclub.org.

And be sure to check the ‘In the News’ section of Footnotes for articles about the forum and the findings of the Scientific Advisory Panel.

Fracking Hearings Coming Up Soon!

Talk About Fracking - convio.jpg

When the NC Chapter launched TheDailyFrack.com, we did not expect so many people to notice.  But notice they did.  Maybe legislators will notice how passionate the public is about protecting our air and water when the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) holds public hearings next month.

If you want to get involved in our fracking campaign, contact Travis at travis.hargett@sierraclub.org.

People are planning to come from all across the state to give DENR feedback on their report.  Will you join them?

Here are some specifics about the two hearings that will help you plan ahead:

Sanford, NC – March 20 – 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – The Wicker Center, 1801 Nash Street, Sanford, NC (map)

Chapel Hill – March 27 – 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – East Chapel Hill High School, 500 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill, NC (map)

Last Call to Attend the NC Sierra Club’s Political Training

The NC Sierra Club will be hosting a political training for group leaders and volunteers. This training is a great opportunity to learn how the Sierra Club can use its grassroots strength to help win targeted local, state, and federal elections.
Topics to be covered include:

NC Legislature: the good and bad guys;
Identification of key races and targets;
Recruiting and building strong political committees and action teams;
Best practices to GOTV (phone banks, direct mail, canvasing etc..); and,
How to organize a PAC fundraiser.

Saturday, February 18 – 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  To participate in this training, please sign-up here.

If you have questions, please call or email Travis Hargett at travis.hargett@sierraclub.org  or  919.833.8467

Lunch and refreshments will be provided. This requires a $10 fee for each participant.

Sierra Club In the News

Convio News.jpg

Sierrans are stepping up big time in 2012.  Here are some of the news stories where Sierrans have contributed to the public dialogue about our key issues.

If you are feeling inspired, consider contacting your local group to see how can stand up on issues that matter in your community.

Offshore Wind News

Sierrans responding to the findings by the Governor’s Scientific Advisory Panel that North Carolina has the best offshore wind resources on the East coast.

News and Observer
http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/02/09/1840756/nc-panel-touts-wind-energy-use.html

The same story ran in the Greensboro News and Record
http://www.news-record.com/content/2012/02/09/article/nc_panel_touts_wind_energy_use

Coastal News 14 - Wilmington
http://coastal.news14.com/content/top_stories/653569/energy-experts-urge-gov–perdue-to-support-offshore-wind-farm

WECT – NBC 6 - Wilmington
http://www.wect.com/story/16903905/report-nc-has-largest-offshore-wind-resource-on-east-coast

Offshore Wind Wire
http://offshorewindwire.com/2012/02/08/panel-backs-nc-wind/

Billboard News

Sierrans were quick to talk about the impact new rules that allow billboard companies to cut down public trees by our roadways.

Charlotte Observer
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/01/28/2965719/roadside-trees-will-be-lost-to.html

WSOC-TV
http://www.wsoctv.com/news/news/local/law-gives-billboard-companies-power-cut-down-trees/nHRHy/

Asheville Citizen Times
http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20120206/OUTDOORS/302060027/Tree-cutting-bill-stirs-controversy-Asheville?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFrontpage%7Cp

Progressive Pulse
http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2012/01/27/chopped-trees-billboards-and-rep-laroque/

And thanks to these stories, editorial boards have been voicing their own concerns about new billboard rules:

Charlotte Observer Editorial

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/02/05/2986024/billboard-rules-bow-to-wrong-kind.html

Southern Pines Pilot Editorial

http://www.thepilot.com/news/2012/feb/08/billboard-firms-win-trees-lose/

‘The Fracking Truth’ News

When the NC Chapter launched it’s fracking campaign, the media and the public were keen to take notice.

Greensboro News and Record ran the same story that appeared in the Fayetteville Observer
http://www.news-record.com/content/2012/01/25/article/sierra_clubs_nc_chapter_launching_campaign_against_fracking

http://fayobserver.com/articles/2012/01/24/1152456

Durham Herald Sun
http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/17291915/article-Business-Briefs–Jan–26

Facing South
http://www.southernstudies.org/2012/01/anti-fracking-campaign-launched-in-north-carolina-as-pressure-grows-for-gas-drilling.html

Southern Pines Pilot
http://www.thepilot.com/news/2012/feb/01/boles-part-fracking-group-visiting-pennsylvania/

News and Observer Business Blog
http://blogs.newsobserver.com/business/sierra-club-launches-fracking-website

NC Utilities Law Blog
http://ncutilitieslaw.com/archive/2012/01/25/chad.aspx

Upcoming Events

Community Meeting on Fracking

February 16 – 7:00 p.m. – Bull City Forward, 101 W. Main St., Durham, NC 27701 (map)

Christa Wagner, a policy analyst in the Commerce Dept. will present on the economic viability of gas drilling in North Carolina. She’ll discuss the type of infrastructure needed to support the industry, where the demand for gas is, and the possible risks and benefits. Afterwards, we’ll host a social and discuss ways to get involved with the Sierra Club in Durham.

Click here to let us know that you are coming!

2012 Southeastern Coastal Wind Conference

March
 8 – 9 - Charlotte Convention Center, 501 S. College St, Charlotte, NC (map)

This event is a first of its kind that highlights Southeastern assets for wind energy deployment within the region.  The conference is a collaborative effort involving more than 40 regional stakeholders from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Topics will include the region’s supply chain, resource, and market strengths to educate decision makers about costs, benefits, and policy options for wind energy.  Offshore and coastal onshore wind energy will be discussed a the conference with a concentration on offshore wind energy.

Click here for more information.

DENR Holds Public Meetings on Fracking

Sanford, NC – March 20 – 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – The Wicker Center, 1801 Nash Street, Sanford, NC (map)

Chapel Hill – March 27 – 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – East Chapel Hill High School, 500 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill, NC (map)

The agency’s draft report on Fracking will be made available on DENR’s website in early March (at which time a public comment period will begin), and findings from the report will be presented at these two public meetings.  Comments will be accepted at these meetings, as well as via mail and email.

Outings

Near Asheville

Pisgah

March 2 – 5 – Creekside Loop – Pisgah

Billed as a “gentle 11 mile loop with minimal climbing and enough camping opportunities to tweak your itinerary,” this outing is surely going to enjoyed by all who attend.  The hike has a moderate skill rating and covers many trails – the Mullinax Trail, Laurel Creek Trail, Bradley Creek Trail, and the Riverside Trail.

Space is limited, so be sure to make your plans today!

Contact: Jerry Weston at takeahike@earthlink.net or at 336.856.1431 (please call before 9:00 p.m.)

For more information on Sierra Club Outings check out the Outings Calendar. 

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Did you know you can make a monthly gift to the NC Sierra Club? Find out how you can make a sustaining gift by visiting our website, or contacting the Chapter office at 919-833-8467.

Money Flower

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* We Ain’t Broke, So Let’s Fix it

Coming Clean
The blog of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune
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February 14, 2012

We Ain’t Broke, So Let’s Fix It

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

The United States is still the wealthiest nation in the world — we’re far from broke. What’s broken, though, is the way we allocate our considerable national resources. Fixing that would put our economy back on track faster than any “supercommittee” rep could posture and bloviate on Fox News.

That’s the message of The Story of Broke, the latest release from the folks who created the short film internet sensation The Story of Stuff a couple of years ago. In just eight minutes, The Story of Broke makes the case that, instead of obsessing about budget cuts, we should be re-prioritizing how our tax dollars are spent. Why are we giving money to highly profitable polluting industries, for instance, instead of promoting clean-energy solutions that would put more people to work and fewer people in the hospital?

The obvious answer is that political priorities are so distorted by the gravitational influence (read “campaign contributions”) of big corporations that what’s best for “we the people” frequently gets overlooked. (Contrary to what Mitt Romney may have claimed in the heat of the Iowa sun, corporations are not people. I’ve yet to see a corporation get cancer from polluted water or asthma from dirty air, for instance. I don’t think you could pepper spray one, either.)

This corporate influence isn’t subtle — it’s blatant. As The Story of Broke points out, U.S. senators who voted to keep Big Oil subsidies in 2011 received five times more in Big Oil campaign cash than did the senators who voted to end the subsidies. And it’s happening again right now, with Big Oil’s senators trying to force the Keystone XL pipeline on the American people any way they can.

One way to tackle these problems might be to end corporate “personhood” with a constitutional amendment — such amendments have been introduced in both houses of Congress. Let’s face it, though, getting one actually passed could take a while. In the meantime, maybe our elected leaders could show some spine and some decency and start acting in the best interests of the real people they actually represent.

For instance, if Congress eliminated outright subsidies to destructive, polluting, disease-causing fossil-fuel industries, it would certainly help reduce the deficit. But more importantly, it would stimulate development of the clean, renewable energy technologies that will generate more jobs, cut healthcare costs, and enable us to keep the lights on without destroying our environment and climate in the process. What’s not to like about that?

The Story of Broke modestly suggests taking the $10 billion in annual subsidies that go to the oil and gas industries and splitting it between rooftop solar (more than 2 million homes) and home energy-efficiency retrofitting. Great idea! Lots of Americans would get good jobs installing and retrofitting. Even more of us would save money on our home-heating bills. A huge bonus: Our communities would become both cleaner and healthier (which also helps the economy, by the way).

The Story of Broke also spotlights a more insidious kind of government subsidy — not holding corporations responsible. Most Americans believe that “polluters should pay.” You make a mess; you clean it up. It’s one of those commonsense things we all were supposed to learn in kindergarten. Corporations don’t go to kindergarten, though — it’s another one of those “people” things. In the real world, corporate polluters never pay the entire bill for their polluting, whether it’s BP in the Gulf of Mexico or any coal-fired power plant in America.

One astounding measure of how insane this kind of hidden subsidy for fossil fuels has become isn’t even mentioned in The Story of Broke. According to a study published in the American Economic Review this year, the costs to our society from the pollution created by coal-fired power plants are actually greater than the value of the electricity generated by those plants. In other words, coal is a vampire industry that, instead of adding value to our economy, does exactly the opposite. (Yes, coal power literally sucks.)

The Story of Broke has plenty of other examples of how we’re allowing what it refers to as “the dinosaur economy” to hold us back. It’s not a catalog of problems, though. It’s more like a banquet of opportunities. It’s like that old joke about the patient who says, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” You know the punch line. The best way to start fixing our economy is to stop doing things that hurt us.

Michael Brune is the Sierra Club’s executive director.

Sierra Club
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San Francisco, CA 94105
michael.brune@sierraclub.org

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* Dumping Dioxin on Dixie and Charlotte

New article from The Institute for Southern Studies speaks frankly about dioxin emission in the South.

Please note the highlighted words, as they pertain to the Charlotte area. Based on information contained in this report, Gerdau Ameristeel is the 2nd largest emitter of air borne dioxins, the active agent in Agent Orange for which there is no known safe level. See the map below for schools, parks, and other facilies surrounding this piont source for this deadly toxin.

As environmental health advocates call on Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to release a long-awaited report on the health impact of dioxins, an analysis by Facing South finds that Southern communities bear a disproportionate burden of industrial dioxin pollution.

A class of toxic chemicals that persist in the environment and build up in the food chain, dioxins have been linked to a host of health problems including immune-system damage, hormone disruption and cancer — and at very low levels of exposure. Environmental dioxin pollution has been declining since the 1970s, but the EPA says current exposure levels “remain a concern.”

That’s why the agency has undertaken a reassessment of the chemicals’ effects on human health. The EPA has said it would release the non-cancer portion of the reassessment this month, with the cancer portion to follow “as expeditiously as possible.” The reassessment has been delayed for decades amid political pressure from industry.

EPA is expected to recommend an intake limit of 0.7 picograms of dioxin per kilogram of body weight per day, The Atlantic reports. (A picogram is one-trillionth of a gram.) The anticipated limit is lower than the 1 to 4 picogram limit set by the European Union for various foods.

Americans get most of their dioxin exposure from eating dairy products, meat, fish, poultry and eggs, which shows why blood dioxin levels are much lower in vegans, who do not eat animal products.

So how does dioxin get into the environment in the first place? Some is produced by natural events such as volcanoes and forest fires. Another source is open trash burning. But most dioxin pollution is a byproduct of industry, with plants producing chemicals, steel, cement and paper topping the list of the heaviest dioxin polluters in the United States. Wood preservation plants are another major dioxin source as some use chemicals similar to dioxins in the preserving process.

The chart below — click on image for a larger version — lists the 30 U.S. industrial facilities that released the highest levels of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds to the air and surface water in 2010, using self-reported data from EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory.

Some observations:

* The South bears a disproportionate burden of dioxin pollution, with 25 of the 30 worst dioxin polluters located in Southern states. There are six major dioxin-emitting facilities in Alabama, five in Louisiana, four in Texas and three in North Carolina.

* The worst dioxin polluter in 2010 was Westlake Vinyls in Calvert City, Ky., which reported releasing over 14,000 grams — more than 31 pounds — of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds to surface waters in 2010 alone. Calvert City, located on a heavily industrialized section of the Tennessee River, has been called a “national sacrifice area” by environmental justice advocates because of its unusually heavy concentration of polluting industry.

* Michigan-based Dow Chemical owns the second and third-biggest dioxin emitters, in Texas and Louisiana respectively. And the Kansas-based conglomerate Koch Industries through its Georgia-Pacific subsidiary owns three of these top dioxin-emitting facilities — two in Alabama and another in Arkansas.

* Several other major industrial emitters of dioxins are owned by foreign corporations, including companies based in Brazil, Germany, Taiwan and Canada.

* RibbonWalk Workday, February 4, 2012

Note: Our next work day is Saturday, March 3rd, from 9:00 am until 12:00 pm. See you there!

The February workday was really productive due to the usual enthusiastic hard work of our volunteers.

These hearty individuals weren’t deterred by the light rain and considerably muddy conditions.  A good deal of progress was made against the kudzu field that morning.

Special thanks to the Boy Scouts of Troop 120 and their leaders for their spirited attack on the invasive vegetation.  We were joined this month by a young man working on his community service commitment for school and some retirees who want to use their new found free time to make a difference in our community.  First time volunteers pitched right in beside our regular attendees.

Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation staffer Laura Domingo will be joining us every workday from now on, providing some tools and supervision.  We learned that pick axes are especially effective for root removal.  Laura shared her knowledge of RibbonWalk’s plants and animals and pointed out activity in the forest since our last visit.

The morning kicked off with coffee and biscuits and a great chance to socialize.  These workdays are wonderful opportunities to meet new people and enjoy being outdoors.  Get your tools, work gloves and boots ready and plan to join us!  The next RibbonWalk workday is Saturday, March 3 from 9:00 to 12:00.  If you would like coffee and conversation before going to work, arrive between 8:30 and 9.  Sierraclub.centpiedchair@gmail.com for more information.

Written by: Renee Reese

Laura Domingo